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rpannier's Journal
rpannier's Journal
July 29, 2023

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

Busy week in Finland. The Finns (Party) could have taken up the whole list it seems. But, I whittled down to two

5. 'Even if I bred with a pitch black Nigerian negro': Finnish government minister in new racism row

Another Finnish government minister from the far-right Finns Party has become embroiled in a racist scandal, after messages he sent to his former girlfriend were published by Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

Wille Rydman, who wrote the messages when he was an MP for the National Coalition Party, was appointed as minister for economic affairs earlier this month.

Rydman replaced Vilhelm Junnila, who quit after his own racist speeches and connections with neo-Nazi groups came to light.

Among the new messages published included Rydman suggesting that Somalis spread like weeds; and sharing lyrics to a song apparently penned by another Finns Party MP which talked about a Muslim who leaves his home country and rapes a woman. Rydman suggested to his ex-girlfriend that the song could be ideally sung at student parties.


4. Orban Says Romanian Foreign Ministry Gave Him A List Of Topics To Avoid In Speech

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told a large audience in central Romania on July 22 that the Foreign Ministry in Bucharest has given him a list of sensitive topics he should avoid in his public addresses at an annual event held by leaders of Romania's Hungarian minority in Transylvania.

Orban last year triggered a wave of international criticism after a speech at the same event in Baile Tusnad in which he warned against mixing with "non-Europeans."


"Every year, choosing what our topics for discussion should be causes headaches," Orban told an audience of several thousand mostly ethnic Hungarians on July 22.

"I understand that this year Romania's Foreign Ministry came to our help and told me what I have permission to talk about and what not, and what I should avoid," he said. "They told us all this in an official document, I am letting you know."


3. Cornish church reverses ban on female vicars

A Cornish church that banned women from applying to be its new vicar – despite once counting Dawn French, star of the TV comedy The Vicar of Dibley, among its flock – has reversed the decision under new management.

A newly elected governing council at St Fimbarrus church in the picturesque port of Fowey in Cornwall has told parishioners that a “new season” has begun.

In a statement, the parochial church council (PCC) said the previous regime’s decision to advertise for a male priest to fill its four-year-old vacancy was “misguided and unrepresentative” of the parish and the town.


2. Far-right terror plot suspects printed 3D guns to ignite Finland 'race war'

Police in Finland say they've stopped a far-right terror plot that would have used 3D printed weapons in an attack aimed at leading to the "collapse of society" in a race war.

The National Bureau of Investigation says their initial probe was just looking into a simple firearms offense, but they soon realised there was a bigger issue involving at least four men with links to the far-right.

Local media reports that one of the men in custody had been a municipal election candidate for the Finns Party, which is one of the four parties which makes up the Nordic nation's coalition government.

The men are suspected of manufacturing submachine guns using 3D printers, as well as other weapons and printed gun parts, in a rented garage as well as in the home of one of the suspects. Police also confiscated a rifle, a home-made pen pistol, and a gas gun converted into a firearm as well as 3D printers and cannabis plants.


1. Russian Anti-War Activist Denied Extension Of Temporary Stay In Serbia

Serbian authorities have denied an extension of the temporary residence permit of Russian anti-war activist Vladimir Volokhonsky less than two weeks after temporarily denying entry to Peter Nikitin, the Russian national with whom Volokhonsky helped establish the nongovernmental organization Russian Democratic Society.

The Russian Democratic Society -- a Russian expat association that has grown to tens of thousands of people since Russia invaded Ukraine -- said that Volokhonsky, who arrived from St. Petersburg in May last year and was granted a temporary residence permit, was informed of the decision on July 25.

Volokhonsky told RFE/RL's Balkan Service that the decision not to extend his residence permit is "a form of political pressure."


July 22, 2023

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

5. Defamation Law Adopted By National Assembly Of Bosnia's Republika Srpska Despite Criticism From Rights Activists

The National Assembly in the Republika Srpska (RS) on July 20 adopted amendments to the Criminal Code of Bosnia-Herzegovina's majority Serb entity that journalists and rights activists say would criminalize defamation and stifle free speech.

The National Assembly adopted the amendments despite months of protests by domestic and international organizations as well as journalists who have called on the lawmakers to scrap the changes.

The amendments say that making malicious or untrue statements about a person amounts to defamation and make the offense punishable with fines.

The law was adopted despite criticism that it represents an attack on freedom of opinion and a step toward the introduction of censorship.


4. Armenian PM Says Another War With Azerbaijan 'Likely' Unless Peace Treaty Is Signed

Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian says a fresh war with Azerbaijan remains a high probability in the absence of a peace treaty between the two countries.


Baku and Yerevan have fought two wars over Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian-populated mountainous enclave that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The most recent war lasted six weeks in late 2020 and left 7,000 soldiers dead on both sides.

As a result of the war, Azerbaijan regained control over a part of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts. The war ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire under which Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops to serve as peacekeepers.

Armenia and Azerbaijan in recent weeks have engaged in rounds of diplomacy aimed at reaching a lasting peace deal but there have been sporadic border clashes, and the talks have not yet yielded a breakthrough.


3. UK relaxes visa rules for foreign builders amid Brexit shortages

Bricklayers, plasterers and other construction jobs have been added to the government’s “shortage occupation list”, making it easier for foreign builders to come to Britain amid labour shortages partly caused by Brexit.

The UK government has relaxed visa restrictions for a number of sectors that face severe worker shortages, and has added bricklayers and masons; roofers, roof tilers and slaters; carpenters and joiners; plasterers and other construction workers to the list. Fishing jobs have also been added to the list.

The Home Office said that this would “aid the delivery of key national infrastructure and stimulate growth for related industries”.

Those working in a shortage occupation can be paid 80% of the job’s going rate and still get a skilled worker visa, and benefit from a lower application fee. Applicants need a sponsored job offer from an employer and must meet English language requirements.


2. Belarus's Vyasna Among Recipients Of 2023 UN Human Rights Prize

The Belarusian human rights group Vyasna (Spring) is one of the recipients of this year's prestigious UN human rights prize. The awards were announced at the United Nations in New York on July 20. The prize “sends a clear message to human rights defenders all over the world that the international community is grateful for, and supports, their efforts to promote all human rights for all," said UN General Assembly President Csaba Korosi, the head of the laureate selection committee. Among the other winners was a Congolese women's rights activist and a global nature-protection coalition.


Vyasna's website if you wish to know more about it


1. Western Balkan Leaders Meet In Tirana Ahead Of October Summit On EU Membership Bids

EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said that the European Union is committed to the rapid implementation of the region's growth strategy after meeting in Tirana on July 17 with top government officials from five Balkan countries that want to become members of the EU.

Varhelyi said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama invited him to Tirana to discuss ways to speed up the economic and social integration of the Western Balkans into the EU.


Rama held a working lunch with the prime ministers of Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro and the chairman of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Council of Ministers to prepare for a summit scheduled to take place on October 16 on progress toward European Union integration.

The government of Kosovo was not represented at the meeting because Prime Minister Albin Kurti is participating in an international symposium in Greece. Albania will host the October summit as part of the Berlin Process, an initiative of Germany and France to encourage the Balkan countries in their path toward EU membership.


Apologies on not having a greater variety of sources for stories this week. There were some really good ones (like border violence in Bulgaria), but they were all videos.
July 15, 2023

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

5. Second Romanian Minister Resigns As Scandal Over 'Horror' Retirement Homes Escalates

Romania's Family and Youth Minister Gabriela Firea has resigned, the second member of Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu's leftist-led government to become a casualty of a national scandal over revelations about the abusive treatment of people interned in a complex of private retirement homes near Bucharest.

Firea announced her resignation in a Facebook post on July 14 after a private meeting with Ciolacu, who is also her Social Democratic Party (PSD) boss.

"I had a meeting with Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu several minutes ago and I handed in my resignation as minister for family, youth, and equality of chances," Firea wrote.

Firea's resignation came a day after Labor Minister Marius Budai left the government after it was revealed that he ignored an official warning from an NGO about the abuses perpetrated at three retirement homes operated in Voluntari, a small town on the outskirts of Bucharest, by an organization called St. Gabriel the Brave.


4. Police call off search for missing two-year-old Emile in French Alps

Police in France have called off the search for a toddler who went missing last Saturday in the south-eastern alpine village of Le Vernet.

Hundreds of police officers, soldiers, and volunteers led desperate efforts to locate the two-and-a-half-year-old, named Emile, who was last seen by two neighbours leaving the family home alone.


Local prosecutor Rémy Avon said in a statement that said the "physical search" could go no further, but added that "the investigation into the causes of his disappearance will continue, notably through analysis of the considerable amount of information and elements gathered over four days."


3. Polish Doctors Examine Georgia's Saakashvili After Video Showing Extreme Weight Loss

Polish doctors have begun examining imprisoned former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on July 12. Morawiecki said at his request a team of Polish doctors began the medical examination. "We do not leave our friends in trouble,” he said without providing details about the examination. Ukraine last week announced its readiness to discuss transporting Saakashvili to Ukraine for treatment after a video of Saakashvili's interrogation showed severe weight loss and a generally unhealthy appearance. Saakashvili, a Ukrainian citizen, is currently in a clinic in Tbilisi and accepts only limited treatment, the clinic said.


2. Court grants reprieve to brown bear that killed Italian jogger

An Italian court has suspended a ruling that a brown bear should be put down for mauling to death a jogger in the Alps.

The animal, a 17-year-old female identified as JJ4, was captured after the fatal attack on Andrea Papi, 26, near his village of Caldes on 5 April. He was the first person in Italy to be killed in a bear attack in modern times.

Judges at the Rome administrative court, known as the council of state, said on Friday that while the bear should be kept in captivity for public safety, the cull order was “disproportionate” and unnecessary.

It was another reprieve for the bear, whose fate has grabbed media attention since the attack. The head of the province of Trento, where the attack took place, has pushed for the bear to be destroyed, while animal rights groups have fought for it to be spared.


1. Tempers Flare In Kosovo's Parliament Over Wiretaps Of Contact With Fugitive Serbian Party Chief

A fight broke out on July 13 during a session of Kosovo's parliament following the publication of wiretapped recordings involving the head of the ruling Vetevendosje parliamentary group, who admitted she had spoken with the wanted deputy head of the Serbian List party.

The brawl erupted after an opposition lawmaker threw water on Prime Minister Albin Kurti as he spoke about the controversy touched off by the release of the recordings.

The wiretapped conversations of Mimoza Kusari-Lila, head of Kurti's Vetevendosje, speaking with the Serbian List deputy head, Milan Radoicic, were released earlier this week.


July 8, 2023

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

5. Three Leading EU Parliamentarians Call On EU To 'Finally' Impose Sanctions On Dodik

Three leading European parliamentarians have called on the European Union to “finally” impose sanctions on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik over his efforts “to systematically undermine" Bosnia-Herzegovina. In a statement issued on July 5, the European Parliament’s chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, David McAllister; the standing rapporteur for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Paulo Rangel; and the chairman of the parliament’s delegation for relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, Romeo Franz, said it is high time for the EU and its member states to impose targeted sanctions on Dodik, who is already under U.S and U.K. sanctions, and his allies. “The EU’s credibility is at stake,” the statement said. Dodik has led an increasingly inflammatory campaign for years to encourage support for his secessionist hopes


4. Rightwing lobby group campaigns to undermine UK four-day week

A rightwing lobby group that does not declare its donors is spearheading a campaign to undermine the spread of the four-day week in the UK.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has emerged as a key influence behind ministerial attempts in the last week to try to shut down the first public sector trial of a shorter working week at South Cambridgeshire district council (SCDC).

There are signs of a town hall fightback, with shorter hours now poised to be introduced in neighbouring Cambridge city council, and eight other English councils said to be considering testing the approach. Glasgow city council said it was monitoring pilot programmes and described the four-day working week as “an aspirational position”.


The TPA, which claims to be a grassroots organisation and is part of a global alliance of free-market advocacy groups known as the Atlas Network, is running a “Stop the clock off” campaign against the four-day week.


3. Thousands march in Bosnia to mark 1995 Srebrenica genocide as ethnic tensions linger on

A solemn peace march started on Saturday through forests in eastern Bosnia in memory of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, Europe's only acknowledged genocide since World War II.

The annual 100-kilometer (60-mile) march retraces a route taken by thousands of men and boys from the Bosniak ethnic group, made up primarily of Muslims, who were slaughtered as they tried to flee Srebrenica after it was captured by Bosnian Serb forces late in the 1992-95 war.

The march is part of several events preceding the actual date commemorating the massacre on July 11.

Nearly 4,000 people joined this year's march, according to organizers. The event comes as ethnic tensions in Bosnia still persist with Bosnian Serbs continuing to push for more independence and their open calls for separation.


2. Hungary, Poland Block EU Summit Over Migration

Poland, backed by Hungary, has staged a revolt against European Union migration reforms, leading to deadlock that on June 30 stretched into a second day at the bloc's summit. The bloc's countries struck a deal in early June on a long-stalled revision of the bloc's asylum rules, but Poland and Hungary fiercely oppose the plans. The agreement aims to share the hosting of asylum seekers across EU countries, with those who refuse having to pay money to the ones that take in migrants.


1. Polish demand for recognition of WWII massacres sparks row with Ukraine

he invasion of Ukraine has inflamed some of the most contentious historical issues on a continent that has been shaped by war for much of its history.

And even Poland, perhaps Ukraine’s staunchest ally since the launch of the full-scale invasion of the country, has not been spared.

On Friday, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Catholic church leaders launched a series of observances to honour the victims of World War II era massacres that saw of tens of thousands of Poles murdered by Ukrainian nationalists.

“We can say that for many years this has been an unhealed wound in Polish-Ukrainian relations," Rafal Bochenek, the spokesperson for Poland's ruling Law and Justice party.

July 8, 2023

18 Days After Taking Office: Is Finland's Government about to Collapse?

video from TDLR.

If you want to use youtube


Some of their sources


The incoming economy minister has addressed a rally organised by neo-Nazis, while the Speaker of Parliament has a decades-long track record of race-related court convictions and deeply disturbing blog postings.

As Finland's new coalition government is sworn into office on Tuesday, incoming Prime Minister Petteri Orpo is facing a public relations headache over the Speaker of Parliament and the Minister for Economic Affairs, both positions filled by the far-right Finns Party.


"I still and will continue to sincerely and wholeheartedly believe that if a woman who opposes the deportation of immigrant rapists is raped by an immigrant rapist, it is a happy thing," he later wrote.

Halla-aho has also targeted Finland's LGBTQ+ community.

"Violence is an underrated problem-solving tool today," he wrote in November 2008, during a discussion on whether to shoot a gay man in a Helsinki park.


The new Finnish coalition government has been plunged into crisis, as a key minister was forced to resign after it emerged he had called for Finland to support abortions in Africa to combat the climate crisis.

Vilhelm Junnila, of the far-right Finns party, resigned after a week of fiercely criticised revelations, including that he made jokes about “Heil Hitler” and had given a speech at an event attended by neo-Nazis.


On Thursday evening, a junior member of the coalition highlighted a parliamentary question Junnila had posed on the official record in 2019. Junnila, who as the economic affairs minister was one of 19 cabinet members, wrote at the time that “it would be justified for Finland to shoulder its responsibility by promoting climate abortion”, which he claimed would be “a great leap forward for humanity”.


5 things we already know about Finland's new right-wing government

1. This is the most right-wing Finnish government in modern times
2. The Swedish People's Party is taking a reputational gamble
5. . Finland's international reputation could take a hit
July 6, 2023

PROPAGANDA - They Showed This To High School Kids In 1948!

This film was made to sell to high school media departments who purchased it to show to their juniors and seniors. Students in public high schools were being exposed to the concept of propaganda, especially given the context of World War II and the early Cold War. At this time there was an emphasis on educating citizens, including school children, about the role of propaganda.
July 2, 2023

How Desantis got into this mess

Desantis' campaign has been like a runaway train heading toward a collapsed bridge over a 500-ft chasm for weeks now.
6-weeks ago, while not in striking distance per se, he was the closest thing to catching Trump the Republicans had.
He had no trouble getting millions from deep pocketed Republican donors, as the uber wealthy flocked to give him whatever he wanted for his Quixotic try for the Republican nomination.
Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, Joe Rogan and the other "content creators" of the New Reichstag Order propped Rob** (sic) up every chance they got.

Now, he is in damage mode almost everyday, and there seems to be no bottom to how far he can fall (the 500-foot chasm gets deeper all the time)
His roll-out on Twitter, while a bit of a mess, was more an omen, than truly damaging. The talking heads of the reich wing raced to his defense reminding everyone that it was Leon (sic) Musk, not Desantis that bore responsibility for the problems -- which was true. But it was Rob's decision.
It went so badly that Trump's campaign was able to make a commercial spot off of it. It showed a Space-X rocket launching, falling sideways and then crashing. He even used Jeb's 2016 logo in the bit.
This past week he looked like Sideshow Bob in Terror Lake standing on the street surrounded by rakes. Only these rakes had New Hampshire, Texas, California, New York, Newsom written on them. And he just kept stepping on them one after another after another.

How did he get here? What is Rob's (sic) problem?
Much of it is him. Unlike Jon Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner and other members of SNL's Not Ready for Prime Time players, Rob(sic) really isn't ready for the Prime Time (much the way another Florida Governor, Jeb wasn't).

I knew his campaign was 99% finished when he screamed at a reporter "Have you lost your mind?"
Rob (sic) is a rage-aholic. He is terribly thin-skinned and his authoritarianism, combined with his narcissism and his seemingly lack of real certainty in himself creates problems.
I said to friends, after his meltdown that he was done. Say what you want about Trumpolini (and I could write a book on every bad thing I can think of) he keeps a measure of control. If he doesn't like a reporter's question, he accuses them of being dishonest and unfair. Whiny, yes. But he's running for the Republican nomination and whiny appeals to the Christian right. He doesn't scream and yell and throw a tantrum, like he's two. He whines like he's three.
Followers of authoritarianism want a leader who appears in control, so they can feel safe. Lashing out like a crazy person doesn't do that.

Then there is Rob's(sic) laugh. Someone told him a joke and his laugh sounded so forced that it made many cringe. If he's going for the every man it works, provided that every man is the Unibomber, Ed Gein, or Art the Clown. Not sure how many people he frightened with that laugh, but my guess is many.

Then, there is his name. He has changed the pronunciation of his last name; is it pronounced duh, like in dumb, or dee, as in delirious?

His campaign has been tailor-made for Trump. Trump mocked woke, and it didn't negatively effect Trump among the anti-wokeritty. When duh...dee... santis responded to Trump's comment that no one seems to understand what woke is. Rob (sic) explained it, and it had no explanation to it at all. It was just a few scary words and phrases strung together that said nothing. And opened Rob (sic) up to more mockery.

** Then there is the "Rob". Trump took up to call desanctimonious "Rob", instead of Ron.
Why? I'm not totally sure except it's more bullying behavior on the part of our junior high mental aged former president.
I use Rob, because I find it funny. I think I find it funny because Rob, like that other Presidential wanna-be failure from Florida, little Marco is unable to counter.
Rob just sounds like Milhouse van Houten trying to be cool.

He's in this mess because he's pathetic. He's not very bright and he has no real talent. Trump at least can connect with some people. Rob connects with no one other than the press corpse desperate for a race in at least one party's nomination race. The only other people he seems to connect with are people who have never met him face-to-face. I mean, Americans living abroad came over to meet him, to vet him, so they could decide about him, and left underwhelmed.

He's not a threat to Trump because he's a lightweight who got lucky.
He's not a threat to Biden because he's just an endless stream of unforced errors that goes on longer than the yellow-brick road
Some people I know have reminded me about McCain. Yeah, McCain came back. He was a bit awkward in front of crowds. But, he was a likeable person with a compelling history who people believed, even when they disagreed with him, that he wanted good things for the country. Most people believe McCain would never do anything untoward just to get ahead.

Rob... he's just Rob. He only cares about himself. He slammed his daughter over her university degree to score points a few years back. Desantis is just that dislikeable. And he sees it as a positive

the only enjoyable things left are to see how many more falls Rob makes. How badly Trump beats him. And what the political fallout for Rob is.

If you made it to the end of this, I thank you for reading.
Have a good day

July 1, 2023

A Joke

Mr Burns: We're going to see a soccer game? Who's playing?
Smithers: Austria-Hungary
Mr. Burns: Against who?

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